Joel Mokyr

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    The crucial role of apprentice­ships for the rise of Europe

The crucial role of apprentice­ships for the rise of Europe

The role of specific institutions was important in giving Europe a technological advantage well before the Industrial Revolution. This column argues that apprenticeships were crucial to Europe’s rise. Unlike in the extended families or clans in other parts of the world, apprentices in Europe’s guild systems could learn from any master. New techniques and innovations could thus spread rapidly […]

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    Historical predictions that technology would bring calamity have largely failed

Historical predictions that technology would bring calamity have largely failed

Technology is widely considered the main source of economic progress, but it has generated cultural anxiety throughout history. In a recent paper, we place today’s angst about technological change in a historical context. In particular, we study three prominent concerns: (1) Will technological progress cause a substitution of machines for labour and lead to widespread unemployment; (2) Will technology […]